Ancient Graveyard

CathedralGraveyardWe Americans are such new kids on the block when it comes to history. Sure, we can trace American history back quite a ways, but when compared to the history of say, Europe, we are neophytes.

I am presently on the east coast of the United States. Things “feel” older here than they do on the west coast. What it typically thought of as “American history” didn’t really start on the west coast until about the time of the gold rush in the mid 1800’s. The East Coast, however, goes back quite a bit farther, especially up in the Virginia and New England areas.

Back in 2002, I “had” to take a business trip to an office I had in Longford, Ireland. I’d been there on a trip before, and my wife had let me know in no uncertain terms that if I ever went back there again that she would be going with me. And she did!  We took about a week or so after I finished with my work to vacation around Ireland. What a delightful place!

Today’s photo is from an old church graveyard located in Glendalough, Ireland. It was a fascinating, beautiful place…I can certainly see why people would live there…and die there.

Some of the stones dated back to the 9th century. Now that’s history!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on January 5, 1933, construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages.

Following the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators realized the land north of San Francisco Bay would increase in value in direct proportion to its accessibility to the city. Soon, a plan was hatched to build a bridge that would span the Golden Gate, a narrow, 400-foot deep strait that serves as the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula with the southern end of Marin County.

Although the idea went back as far as 1869, the proposal took root in 1916. A former engineering student, James Wilkins, working as a journalist with the San Francisco Bulletin, called for a suspension bridge with a center span of 3,000 feet, nearly twice the length of any in existence. Wilkins’ idea was estimated to cost an astounding $100 million. So, San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael M. O’Shaughnessy (he’s also credited with coming up with the name Golden Gate Bridge), began asking bridge engineers whether they could do it for less.

Engineer and poet Joseph Strauss, a 5-foot tall Cincinnati-born Chicagoan, said he could.

Eventually, O’Shaughnessy and Strauss concluded they could build a pure suspension bridge within a practical range of $25-30 million with a main span at least 4,000 feet. The construction plan still faced opposition, including litigation, from many sources. By the time most of the obstacles were cleared, the Great Depression of 1929 had begun, limiting financing options, so officials convinced voters to support $35 million in bonded indebtedness, citing the jobs that would be created for the project. However, the bonds couldn’t be sold until 1932, when San-Francisco based Bank of America agreed to buy the entire project in order to help the local economy.

The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937, the longest bridge span in the world at the time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran and even roller skated over the new bridge.  It is today one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Queen Victoria was the last teenager to rule England.



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